Stretching regularly throughout the day is one of the easiest ways to improve flexibility and relieve the stress that builds in our bodies…and minds. Here are some easy stretches that can be done anytime…some even without getting up from your couch, desk, grocery store line or bed…although standing up, if you can, is recommended.

•  Suck your stomach in and hold tight for as long as you can. Release and breathe.

• Lift your legs straight out in front of you and hold steady for as long as you can.  Release.

•  Extend legs in front of you and crisscross them like a scissors. Do as many as you can.

•  Put your palms together in front of your chest and push tightly together as hard as you can. Hold for as long as you can push hard. Release and repeat.

•  Extend your arms in front of you or to your sides at shoulder height. Pulse them up and down—up three inches, down three inches—as if you were flapping wings like a bird.

• Stand with your feet a few inches apart and your arms extended overhead. Imagine that you are “pulling yourself up” as if grabbing onto a rope that’s hanging over your head. Pull first with your right hand, then alternate to your left– giving a good imaginary “pull” each time to really stretch your sides, arms and midsection.

• Arm swings strengthen your chest and upper back muscles while relieving tension–plus they improve posture like all these other stretches. Stand with your arms stretched out in front of you as if trying to reach a wall. Then slowly move those stretched arms down towards the ground and then behind you –as if you’re trying to get your fingertips to touch a wall behind you. Without arching your back, imagine your fingers climbing up that wall behind you as far as you can go. Then drop your arms and try the stretch again.

• Wall leg squats are a way to work on stretching your leg muscles. Lean agains a wall barefooted or in sneakers. Move your heels about a foot away from the wall. Slide your back down the wall as far as you can go, up to a 90 degree angle, while keeping your heels firmly planted. Hold the position, then slide back up the wall.

• Leg reaches are done on our backs. Lay down flat. Lift one leg about six inches off the ground, point your toes straight out and then up towards the ceiling. Then switch legs

Remember: Stretching is gentle. It is to relieve stress– not add it! It is non-competitive, peaceful and relaxing. It helps you better access your own personal potential — physically, mentally and spiritually. Give it a gentle try…daily and as often as you want throughout the day!

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